Copenhagen is currently buzzing with the number of planned and ad hoc actions or protests occurring, both within and outside of the Bella Centre. Many suspect that the COP15 will be the next WTO Seattle. Recent changes in Danish law may hamper this manifestation though. Whilst the laws of Denmark still obviously still apply within the Bella Centre, delegates do have slightly more freedom (assuming they go through all of the protocol) to run some events though.
Young people are at the forefront having spearheaded a number of high quality actions. On the first Monday a ‘Ooh, it’s Getting Hot in Here’ flash dance was organised for the end of a plenary session. Unfortunately, I was held up in a conference call a dozen or so metres away at the time and was unable to partake. However, I did make up for this by chanting, by myself, from my seat in front of some delegates who looked slightly confused with the unexpected free lunch time entertainment on offer.
The 29th anniversary of John Lennon’s assassination inspired a quirky action in the form of a climate bed in, which also included a revised rendition of ‘Give Peace A Chance‘. Inevitably this action would have been slightly more successful if more people had turned up. I covered this event (albeit fairly badly) and it was my first experience of how competitive photojournalism is after getting elbowed in the head.
One of the ongoing actions is Climate Justice Fast which began when the Barcelona talks started. Taking inspiration from Ghandi, a smaller number of climate change activists have been living on nothing but water since. Anna Kennan, a fellow Australian, is currently on Day 34 of the fast and expresses ‘amazement over the resilience of the human body’. Sara Svensson, a Swede, is also fasting and mentions that one of the downsides has been having to sleep a considerably more in order to maintain energy levels stating that she now sleeps at least ten hours a night. I have the utmost respect for all those participating in CJF knowing full well that I would never be able to survive without food (mentally, even if my body could physically). Beyond that though, I also like the fact that this is an ongoing process and certainly isn’t stereotypically ‘fun’ or glitzy. Meaning that the participants aren’t there just for a photo opportunity. CJF takes climate change activism to a deeper level, one that exemplifies a new lifestyle choice.
Knowing full well that I would never be able to participate in CJF without some dire consequences, I did begin to think about what it was that I could do during the COP15 to demonstrate my commitment though. Some of you may be aware of my current living situation (i.e. too many people, not enough space) which is only further exacerbated when you have to share a bathroom with many. As I left yesterday morning after forgoing a shower (never in a million years would I wait for two hours), I realised that perhaps this could be my action – to not shower during the negotiations.
I’ve never been one for taking long showers, it must have something to do with my fear of aging combined with how water makes your skin wrinkly. Seriously though, having grown up in a drought ridden country, I’ve come to realise that even though Australians may have access to clean drinking water – that water is limited. Living on the edge of the city has meant a constant and reliable stream of water however, some of my friends who reside in regional Australia are not as fortunate. Melbourne is currently under Stage 3a water restrictions (which some people argue is not stringent enough) with the Government urging citizens to limit their water to 155 litres per day. I consume an extortionate amount of water for the purposes of hydration (close to four times more than the average person) however, in all other respects, I use very little water.
Living in a house with a grey water system, taking two minute showers where I actually turn off the water as I wash my fair or even how I have been known to tighten taps beyond the point of return have all helped me reduce my water usage. My water frugalness is not just confined to my household or Australia though. In my travels across Europe, a number of my hosts have questioned the length of my showers reminding me that there is no drought. Whilst this is true, I don’t see what is wrong with limiting our use of resources even if there isn’t necessarily a ‘problem’.
The personal action that I have discussed would basically mean I won’t permit myself to shower for the duration of the COP15 negotiations (although I will probably still wash my face and whatever). In comparison to those fasting, this is not a big sacrifice. However, in today’s modern society where image is everything, I believe that this sacrifice could have some sort of impact. In many ways it takes us back to the Middle Ages where people bathed quarterly, as opposed to daily or even more frequently. If society continues in this business as usual manner then we may head to a future where we won’t have access to drinking water, let alone water that allows for us to maintain our appearances. Society needs to realise that the simple things that we take for granted, like the ability to shower, may not exist anymore if we don’t solve this climate change issue.
(I am interested to hear whether you think I should do this though, seeing as it does raise some issues that would effect those around me. And I have reached that point where everything sounds vaguely like a good idea.
I would like to mention that I do have copious amounts of deodorant.
Ja eller nej?)
Linh Do, 18, is an Australian doubling as an Arts student at the University of Melbourne and Director of Change&Switch. She is currently at the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen navigating her way around the Bella Centre trying not to get lost whilst making the most of her experiences by attending a variety of different sessions. You can keep up to date on her activities by following her on Twitter or her blog An Attempt at [A]professionalism or just continue to revisit the Global Changemakers website!